Fill in the blank, please

One of my kids recently said, “Life is too short to wear fake diamonds.”

That got me to thinking: what else is life too short for?

I am starting a list for myself:

Life is too short to watch American Idol.
Life is too short to finish reading books you don’t like by Chapter Four.
Life is too short for grudges.
Life is too short for low-fat cheese.
Life is too short to drink wine that comes in a box.

I’d love to hear what youse guys think.

Fill in the blank: Life is too short for ________________

Monday morning listmaking

It’s Monday morning, but my head is already focused on Friday, when I fly to Michigan for their SCBWI Fall Conference. I’ll spend Sunday on airplanes and in airports hopscotching across to Portland, Oregon.

You can catch me a week from today kicking off Teen Read Week by delivering the 2007 Teen Author Lecture, courtesy of the Multnomah County Library System in Portland. Tuesday I will be speaking at Parkrose High School (event closed to the public, sorry), and Wednesday will be spent knitting and/or scribbling on airplanes as I head back to the East Coast.

Along with the finishing touches on those speeches, I need to get a big hunk of the revised historical off to my editor, finish going through the copyedited manuscript of next year’s non-fiction historical picture book (I can’t WAIT to show you the art!!!) and answer a bunch of email relating to NCTE that piled up when our computers were sick. Oh, and work on my new YA.

I am already tired.

If you are interested in writing and publishing books for kids and teens, go to WGTD and poke around until you find the archive interview from this morning with Putnam editor Tim Travaglini. Be patient when you listen. The first gentleman interviewed, John Stewig, talks for a bit about the upcoming workshop at the Carthage Center for Children’s Literature in Kenosha, WI. John’s voice reminded me so much of Mr. Rogers (I miss him!) that I found myself reaching for graham crackers and milk.

Tim talks about the requirements of being an editor (“take a vow of poverty… be a masochist”) as well as many of the practical business aspects of publishing. After the interview with John and Tim, the station replays an interview from 2005 with Jonathan Stroud, author of The Bartimaeus Trilogy.

If you need a boost of inspiration after listening to that dose of reality, read about Christopher Paul Curtis talking about his new book.

Random Saturday thoughts, head start on Sunday’s

I have figured out why our computer system, cable, Internet and phone have been messed up for two weeks. My Muse has transformed herself into the Ghost in the Machine and is haunting all of the electronic communication devices in our house so I have more time to write. I love her. We have had guys with trucks from the cable company out nearly every day, with more coming on Monday.


But email waits for no Muse, which is why I am typing this at the Oswego Tea Company in Oswego, NY. (They are working on the redesign of their page. Anybody from SUNY Oswego want to lend a hand? Maybe they could pay you in cookies or coffee.) Seriously, this is one of my favorite places around and they have free Wifi. Thank you, Lisa who own the Tea Company.

I have recently had many requests to speak at schools. I am still turning all of these down and will be doing so for the foreseeable future, though I do hope to get back to school visits eventually. Teachers, I have name for you, for professional development purposes you want to invite Dr. Joan Kaywell to speak to you. Trust me on this.

We went to the hometown homecoming football game last night: our Mexico Tigers vs. the Fulton Red Raiders. I swear EVERYBODY in our community was there, from new babies to great-grandparents. Mexico lost, but it was a hard fought game and lots of fun to watch. And we beat ESM at their homecoming last week, so the karma is balanced now.

This morning BH and I got up early and headed for the Syracuse Regional Market in search of the season’s last tomatoes (yes, I am roasting them again), fresh cauliflower, enough garlic braids to get us through the winter, fresh bread, and other goodies. One of my favorite local blogs told us about Wake Robin Farm, so we bought heavenly yogurt from them. We also picked up pasture-fed, traditionally raised beef, pork, chicken, eggs and butter from Wendy at Sweet Grass Farm. I swear I will never eat corporate-farmed butter again.

I have been wrestling Chapter Eight of my revision of the historical novel for two and a half days. The dang thing almost had me in a choke-hold, but I finally figure out how to take it down. Kevin, if you are reading this, Chapter Eight just split into two chapters. So yeah, the book is a little longer. Sorry about that.

My alma mater is the coolest.

Great quote heard on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me today: “Blackwater is Enron, but with sub-machine guns.” If you don’t know what that means, please do some investigating into the affairs of Blackwater.

That’s enough now. Back to work.

Back at it

Chris Crutcher was wonderful last night, so inspiring when talking about his commitment to writing realistic stories of courage for teens, funny, and passionate about our freedom of expression. I took pictures, but the Internet and computer problems continue here at the Forest, so I can’t post them yet.

Chris also read from DEADLINE, which sounds like a book I should go buy in hardback today. Watch Crutcher reading from his new book, courtesy of .

Am happy to report I got a clean bill of health from the doc. Some of you know this, but for those who don’t here’s the story. In the summer of 2002, I was diagnosed with two spots of malignant melanoma, the often fatal form of skin cancer. Thankfully, it was caught early. The docs cut away the offending spots and left me with a couple of long scars that cry out to be decorated with tattoos.

I have since had a dozen other lesions removed – none of them were cancerous. I avoid the sun like a vampire. That’s why I am so pale. I am proudly, purposely pale. I was never a sun worshiper, other than summer afternoons by Green Lakes as a teenager. I did have a couple of horrific sunburns as a kid. After 18, I pretty much stopped laying out for a tan. But I developed cancer.

Yes, my ancestors came from Ireland and England, but anybody can get melanoma. African-Americans die from melanoma. It killed Bob Marley. Just because your family came from Italy or China, or Nigeria does not mean you are safe. Now that summer is over, this is the perfect time to check your body for spots. Skin cancer is highly curable if caught early, so go look in the mirror.

Two questions: why is Jan Brett having her Syracuse signing in a Wegman’s? We have wonderful bookstores here, what are they – chopped liver?

And what do you think of depressing reading lists?

Back to writing…..